Revolutions can be regime changing. Revolutions can change opinions. Revolutions can even end entire epochs. In all cases revolutions disturb the current status quo, and even after the dust settles, can be a sore spot of contention years later. Change can be a weapon. At the same time, change can be a powerful, positive force. Still, diehards on all sides of a revolution rarely get the closure and final result that they, individually, may desire. Such is the case of Jerry Sloan’s resigning 12 months ago. (Note to non-English native speakers like myself, ‘resigning’ isn’t the same thing as ‘re-signing’ is – as I learned a year ago after that home loss on TV to the Chicago Bulls) This season the new, revolutionized Utah Jazz are winning games (for the most part)’; head coach Tyrone Corbin was implementing his system and getting his guys to play hard; and fans could just focus on loving our team again. However, a number of high profile individuals have begun to express their feelings and hard held beliefs on the subject; perhaps out of reaction or consequence of the preceding individuals’ lack of silence.
According to the fantastically researched and presented time-line by our own Moni (@Monilogue ) at her site JazzFanatical, this is what we know: (Prologue) Jerry Sloan resigns; (Act 1) Karl Malone talks; (Act 2) Brad Rock wrote a piece; (Act 3) Kevin O’Connor was interviewed on the radio; (Act 4) Gordon Monson wrote a piece; (Intermission) Jerry Sloan watched a college basketball game and was silent; (Act 5) Greg Miller tweeted; (Act 6) Tyrone Corbin’s agent, Steve Luhm, Gordon Monson, and an AP writer quoting Deron Williams all tweeted some things; (Act 7) Greg Miller writes his opinions out in a blog post; and so forth. I’m not going to include a hyperlink for each event – just visit her site. It’s the best post on this you’ll find on the internet. The main point that I can see is that right now all the reactionary cuts, jabs, and stabs are succeeding only in killing our franchise, sentencing us to a death from a thousand small wounds. Wounds that for the most part we had all (including the ever ferocious, hungry National Media) healed and moved on from.
Yes, Karl Malone is my favorite basketball player of all-time; but I will be the first person to admit that he is far from a perfect player, and far from a perfect human being. That said: I don’t think it’s ever good business to erode the relationship with the face of your franchise (he has a statue in-front of the arena, lest we forget) – no matter what the situation is. Karl rubbed a lot of people the wrong way, and in a way, he was the most volatile individual in this whole revolution. Jerry Sloan was going to keep his mouth shut. By giving Karl a reason to be upset, in a way, the Utah Jazz brass offered him a reason to blow up. If you’ve ever, EVER, worked in a laboratory environment before you know that you don’t have to worry about your Noble Gasses (Jerry Sloan); you do have to worry about things that can go absolutely nuclear though (Karl Malone). Ticking off Karl Malone (and hey, a lot of times Karl gets ticked off for perceived slights just as much as the real ones – it was that chip on his shoulder that motivated him to try to prove everyone wrong on the court every time he played; that same chip on his shoulder that made him the face of his small market franchise that he took to the Western Conference Finals 5 times in a 7 year stretch) set off a chain reaction – and right now the Jazz fans are neck deep in nuclear fallout that can’t be contained by the Energy Solutions Arena. Now this is a national story. Now this is something I can’t avoid addressing anymore.
It pains me to even think of having to scrub nuclear fallout – from our own Mom and Pop owned franchise. We love the Jazz. The Jazz were winning some games no one thought we could. The Jazz had a bright future. Tyrone Corbin was doing well. And then this happened; our own little Three Mile Island / Tschernobyl / Fukushima – right in our own back yard for all the neighbors to look at and gossip about. The biggest national story about the Jazz this year was the surprisingly good play from our very young team, and how Tyrone Corbin could be a candidate for Coach of the Year. Now, all of that good press is yesterday’s news. I’d rather write 2000 words on Al Jeffersons’ crazy girlfriend than this. I’d rather read about Gordon Hayward saving money by buying a family sedan instead of this. Nope. Not going to happen. The only Jazz news we get will now be this, and a passing mention in opposing teams’ game recaps.
I kind of want to blame Lakers fans for this somehow, but even this isn’t their fault. (Btw, our team is still playing games and they have one tonight against the Lakers – you know, the game is now an aside to the spectacle). You’re taught to try your best to placate your most volatile actors in any reaction – by isolating them, by neutralizing them, or by removing them. It’s easier said than done when this volatile actor is also the singular guy that casual fans, and fans of other teams think about when they think of your team. Greg Miller, and please I’m not taking sides – if I was it would be on the side of the Jazz fans, wrote that (I’m paraphrasing here) the pains Karl Malone used to give the Jazz were no longer counter balanced by the good he could do for the franchise. Perhaps the value of Malone now doesn’t exist upon a gradient? Perhaps he exists only in an action potential type of way, right now he’s binary. He can either hurt you / make a mess / open his mouth / make the team look bad / undermine progress – or he can not do those things. Even if you don’t think he’s capable of doing good (by his refusal of your olive branch or whatever), then you know that he is capable of damage. Karl Malone is a known element at this point. We all know what he’s capable of. Because we know what he’s capable of it points even more to the negligence of people on overwatch. He’s not like Dominique Wilkins who’s happy to just do color commentary for the Atlanta Hawks. He’s not like Joe Dumars who can handle a high profile, high ‘reliability’ front office job like he has with the Detroit Pistons. Sadly, he’s not like John Stockton who just knows when to disappear either. He’s Karl Malone. And I am blaming him for bringing this up. But you don’t blame a chemical for its nature (oh, why couldn’t you be more like U-239 instead of U-232?). You are to blame for improper containment. It’s Karl’s nature to go vocal when he’s ticked off. I’ve never met him and I know this. What’s the excuse for the people who knew him since he was 20?
Still, the whole situation wouldn’t have spiraled out of control into this huge PR mess if the main people involved in the chemical reaction were more like Jerry Sloan – the noble gas. Moving away from the meltdown / chemical reaction theme back into the idea of revolution – Karl Malone is the charismatic partisan fighting a dirty, hard to suppress resistance to the new order. He liked it the way it used to be. And until you win him over, he’ll always find a way to make his points known – at the expense of order. The Jazz revolution happened. Sloan left. Tyrone became the leader. Deron Williams was exiled. The good reconstruction efforts are now being overlooked because all the outside media can focus on is the mess this rogue has made.
Long Live The Utah Jazz
Now can everyone involved just shut up like Jerry Sloan has, so we can attempt to move forward? (And also Jazz need to hire some people to wrangle Karl Malone – make him an official talent scout in Mongolia.)
Note: the only criticism I will tolerate in the comments section will be on my writing. This is a warning – all comments critical of Greg Miller, the Miller family, the rest of the Jazz brass, our coaches, our media, and our former players will be deleted. Period. This is censorship. This is a new regime here at SLCDUNK. You can give your opinions, but the last place I want to see fans fighting and saying bad things about our entire Jazz family is here. No criticism. Just constructive commentary. And making fun of me. Shut up.